Friday, July 16, 2010

The Gayest Thing You Will Read Today (maybe ever?)

I loves me some Kylie Minogue. Which is weird because recently my musical tastes have been running far, far away from dance-pop music (yay folk-country-roots!). But no matter what may change in regards to my current musical inclinations, you throw on some Kylie and I turn into a squealing sparkleberry of girlish delight.

*starts listening to All The Lovers*

Anywhoseywhatsits, with the release of "Aphrodite", her 11th studio album and my current obsession, I thought I'd take a look back over her more recent albums and offer up my unsolicited and assinine thoughts!

Impossible Princess- released 1997

Lead single- Some Kind Of Bliss
* not gonna lie, this is easily one of my least favourite songs by her. Mostly because it's so out of sorts with everything else she's done. I can recognize the fact that by choosing this as the first single she was clearly announcing that we're in for something different with this album, but the song is bland and IMO tries too hard to be "un-Kylie". Furthermore, while Kylie isn't known for having the strongest vocal chops, this is one of the only songs I can think of where that actually becomes a detriment to the song. This begins Kylie's track record of choosing really whackadoo lead singles- just you wait!

Title track- Dreams
* a title track only in the sense that it contains the line "these are the dreams of an impossible princess". I often look to the title track of any album to be the defining mission statement of any album, and so I look to this one as such. I find this song very interesting. The sound is very dramatic and ominous, with loads of electric guitars thrown up against violins. The lyrics match that battle between different sounds in that they refelct a woman struggling with desires one way or another. The song reads as a woman entering maturity, having difficulty deciding what she wants in life. That confusion and desire to have it all is very reflective of the incohesiveness of the album as a whole and the mish-mash of styles that went into it.

Final thoughts: A different album, certainly. It stands out as her most unique and ambitious album by far, but one can't help but wonder if Kylie just isn't cut out for sonically adventurous type music. The choice to feature "natural" instruments like drums, guitars, and such more prominently than, say keyboards and other such electronics make for a interesting and, again, un-Kylie sound. That being said, there are some fantastic tracks on this. From the sexy synth of "Breathe", to the bratty pop of "Did It Again" (the video is one of my faves, self-aware but not narcissistic: ), the punky breeziness of "I Don't Need Anyone" and Eastern-inflected "Limbo", this is definitely a listenable album. You just need to recalibrate your expectations of what a Kylie Album is and listen accordingly.


Light Years- released 2000

Lead Single- Spinning Around
*Remember what I said about jank lead singles? Ignore that for a moment. This has got to be one of the greatest lead singles ever. Launches out of the gate with a declaration of "I'm spinning around, move out of my way" Kylie returns to her dance pop roots from the strangeness of Impossible Princess. Proclaimed her comeback song (the poor woman has suffered the "comeback song!" curse many times), this song is bright, assertive, irresistible and fun. Even now, 10 years later, if you want to put on your headphones and strut like a woman in charge, this is the go-to song. It's no surprise that this song got the album off to a great start.

Title Track- Light Years
*A fuckin' weird song, but since it closes this album, by this point you are either riding high on the Kylie wave or you are so full of cheese that you feel like a Pizza Pocket. In it Kylie assumes the role of intergalactic flight attendant, taking the listener on a trip to, I dunno, aural fantasy? It's spaced out, sparse and features a spoken interlude where Kylie does a safety anouncement directing listeners to the emergency exits. If this is the Mission Statement of the album, one can only assume that Kylie is saying "hey, I'm gonna take you on a voyage to fun and fanciful places. Come along!". I dig it.

Final Thoughts: Holy crap, this is a jaunty album. There is "summer album" and then there is this. I can see how it would be easy to dismiss this album as piffle, even braindead. But frankly, sometimes you just want to put on an album you know will a)put a smile on your face and b)a tap in your toe. A lot of the songs may be silly ("Koocachoo", "Your Disco Needs You" - did they all just sing ASS?) but I love it. After Impossible Princess I can understand her desire to do what she does best: bright, danceable, pop perfection. "Butterfly" remains one of my favourite songs by her. There's a line in "Kids" that really sums it up: "and we'll paint by numbers 'til something sticks, I don't mind doing it for the kids". She knows she isn't breaking any new ground, or blowing anyone's minds. She's doing it for the people who want it, and that's fine by her (and me!)


Fever- released 2002

Lead Single- Can't Get You Out Of My Head
* Sing it with me folks : "la la la, la la la laa laaa"! Don't act like you don't know this song, and don't act like it didn't rule your brain for weeks after it came out. Now I'm gonna say something shocking here: in theory, as a lead single, she was bonkers to use it. It's weird, stuttery, almost overly simple, and compared to some other songs, it should never have been the lead. Second, third single, maybe. In practice, it was (and still is) one of the greatest pop songs ever recorded. You listen to this song once or twice and it is lodged in your brain like a hungry tick, until you are sitting at your desk humming the "la la laa"s without even realizing it. Even the video is kind of whackadoo (here begins her practice of making dancers do weird ass things), but nothing can compare to her white, one piece, hooded dress thingy. I'm a homosaurus rex and even I was like "DAYYYUMMM!" when I saw her in it. It was this song which made me into a Kylie fan (I was still unaware of anything before this except for "Locomotion").

Title Track- Fever
*What the crap? I love this song, but really Kylie, you have come down with a case of lovesickness fever and you need a doctor to heal you? I have tried to figure out how this song could work as a Mission Statement, but it really doesn't work. Unless it is to say that dancing is the cure to what ails you, and this album is meant to fix you? A weird little song, very disposable.

Final Thoughts- Oh Fever, how I love you. This was the first album I owned of hers, and so I always look to this as the yardstick by which I measure her other releases- how do they compare to Fever? The album is a slice of euro-pop wonder, and is one of those rare albums where you listen from front to back and everything is solid. Standouts are "In Your Eyes" (easily one of the top 3 best songs she's done), "Love At First Sight", "Love Affair"...oh hell, everything rocks my socks. What I love best about this is that it takes the joy and bounce of Light Years and strips away a lot of the silliness that rendered it a bit (ok, a lot) cheesy. Really, for anyone looking to get into Kylie, this is where you start.


Body Language- released 2004

Lead Single- Slow
* As a lead single, this is a total fail for me. There's no hook, nothing that bites into me and says "LISTEN TO MEEEEEEEE!". Yes, it's sexy and seductive and she lays on the breathy vocals like she's dying of tuberculosis but it's too joyless and calculated (and therein lies a major problem I have with the rest of the album.). I like my Kylie poppy and fun, and I can certainly allow for her to try out different things, but this took away her soul, for me.

Title Track- Slow
* Again, this counts as the title track only in the sense that she says "body language" in it. As a Mission Statement, it makes it very clear that she's going to try to ply you with her slinky, electro charms. It also displays that her dancey, hooky fun is out the window in favour of cold, calculated synth. *sad face*

Final Thoughts- I will give credit where credit is due, there are some good songs. I like "Secret (Take You Home)", "Chocolate" (where she does slinky/sexy correctly), "Loving Days", but on the whole I just never got into this album. I always get the feeling that this was her attempt to become more mainstream by ditching the bubbly charm that always kept her on the outs with "serious" listeners in favour of r&b sounds and inoffensive electro. If Kylie has gone through many different incarnations, this was 'Serious Kylie', and I'm not feeling it.


X- released 2007

Lead Single- 2 Hearts
* Let me be clear: I fucking ADORE this song. That out there? Y'all get that? Ok good. Now then, WORST LEAD SINGLE OF LIFE. Suddenly Kylie becomes glam-pop-rock queen? It makes no sense. By leading off an album with a style so unlike typical Kylie, I feel like she alienated a lot of potential new listeners who were so blatantly confused by the shift in style. X was supposed to be (another) her comeback album and this likely ruined the chance of that; people just didn't know what the hell was going on. As for the musical worth of this song, it's a smash. Handclaps, jaunty "woooo!"s, slamming piano, and a more organic sound make for one of her most unique songs. Granted it's all a sound that we don't really hear again on the album but you have to love it anyways.

Title Track- umm, there isn't one.
* X was always meant to refer to the fact that it was her 10th album. In a way, that highlights a failing of this album: it has no clear Mission Statement, no throughline to make a cohesive album. More on that...

Final Thoughts- ...right now. X is a solid collection of songs, no doubt about it. When it came out it was just about the only thing I had the ability to listen to! But recently I've been reading some reviews of it that were all united on the fact that it's just not a great album. The Kylie fanboy in me screamed "NO YOU ARE WRONG! IT'S AMAZING! GRRRAAAWWWWRRRR!!!" but I thought I should take an objective view at it and yeah, as an album it's a bit weak. The awesome songs are there, they just don't all fit together. She plays style hopscotch like she did in Impossible Princess and once again the results are a bit discordant and confused. I still love a great many of the songs here, "In My Arms", "Wow", "All I See", "Speakerphone", and more, but they're better served as individual listens that a straight, front to back listen.


Aphrodite- released 2010

Lead Single- All The Lovers
* Oh holy hell, I need to compose myself. We go from "2 Hearts" as the worst lead single of life to this, the best. When I first heard this song it became my life goal to listen to it on repeat until my ears dropped off from overload. Much like "Spinning Around", she lays it all out in the first line: 'dance, it's all I wanna do so baby dance'. Nice and clear of her, innit? What follows is a euphoric, propulsive, emminently danceable, lyrically unabashed celebration of love and dance. What really sells it for me is that it, for me, is the ultimate alchemy of joyful pop Kylie with a current, 'grown up' sound. It's the kind of song that should rightly convert the critics. The best bit happens after the slowdown that follows the second chorus. Her voice fades away, blippy percussion skitters along for a handful of beats and then BAM! Drums and the kind of kind of blissful synth that makes you want to raise your arms and sway bursts out. Gives me shivers almost every time. Bonus points go to the video for being such a (scantily clad) blast :D

Title Track- Aphrodite
(there are no versions of this on youtube *sad face*)
* If you want a Mission Statement, you've got it. Backed by a stompy, military sound Kylie makes it very clear that she is back to rock your world and she's doing it better than others can do it. It's a bit of a departure for her, because she's always been the kind to do her own thing, oblivious to others. Yet here she is saying she's pop-queen shit and all y'all others better recognize. It's a new incarnation, "Dominant Kylie" and it fits her like a glove. A little ego, a little bragging, it's all good. I can see this becoming a HUGE hit with gays and single, sassy women everywhere. WERK!

Final Thoughts- Again it seemed like Kylie needed a comeback album, something to put her in the spotlight and really let her explode. If Light Years did it for her in the 00's, then Aphrodite is definitely it for the 10's. She's at her best making pop music to put you on the dancefloor and boy howdy she doesn't disappoint. There are a couple hiccups, admittedly, like "Illusion" and "Looking For An Angel", but they don't detract all that much. The one-two punch of "All The Lovers" followed by "Get Outta My Way" (just TRY listening to this while you are walking without power strutting) are enough to to make this album a classic, but there are bright spots like "Cupid Boy", "Better Than Today", "Closer", "Can't Beat This Feeling" and more. It is no surprise that it is already shaping up to be her most successful album, critically and commercially, since Fever (which was, in fact, slagged a bit critically), hitting #1 in several European countries as well as debuting higher than any album she's released in the US.


FINAL NOTE- Albeit not official studio albums, it should be metioned that she also has a couple live albums that are essential listening. Defying expectations of typical pop stars, betch can sing live! Her live shows are fantastic and she has a keen knack of reworking older songs to make them really special, like "Locomotion" ( ). I would absolutely recommend Showgirl: Homecoming (her return to the stage after finishing treatment for cancer). SO GOOD!


  1. "I'm a homosaurus rex and even I was like "DAYYYUMMM!" when I saw her in it."

    I nearly pissed myself.

  2. And yet nothing about "squealing sparkleberry of girlish delight"?